The use of technology in the classroom suggests that teachers rethink their teaching strategies keeping into account new resources, their potential and changes they induce in contents, objectives and ways of learning and teaching, as well as in the organization of school work. The introduction of computers and in-service teacher training is not enough for this complex process to take place. In fact, permanent actions to support teachers involved in innovation process are desirable. The Teachers Educational Technology Lab-LabTD, is designed and implemented by ITD-CNR on the grounds of its long-term experience in this field and aims to represent a prototype and a possible answer to the above described need. The project took place in 2006-2007 and was funded by Fondazione CARIGE in cooperation with the local Ministry of Education, the City Council School Office and the Don Milani experimental lower secondary school at Genova. The LabTD is located in the Don Milani and is meant to become a lifelong training centre to favour the development of competencies and good teaching practices through the use of technology as an “ordinary” ingredient of the teacher’s work and professional development.
The Lab is an example of productive integration of technology in education and its premises and settings can be adapted to the needs of the various activities – courses, workshops, meetings, individual or small groups activities; furnishings are stylish and pleasant and not very “scholastic” and it features high level technological equipment – over thirty computers, mainly notebooks, intranet and internet also wireless connections, printers, video projectors, applications and educational software available, visual presenter, satellite TV, etc. The centre is addressed to teachers of the district and offers a variety of services that include series of lectures and courses that often apply selective entry in order to allow the active participation of attendees, hardware rent, use of the lab and resources for autonomous, individual or small groups activities. Moreover, LabTd also features a website – www.labtd.it and a Moodle-based communication platform – www.labtd.it/partecipa for activities management (communication with users, course registration, news, etc.). The virtual lab is also used to integrate face to face training with online activities also providing course material sharing. After an experimental session under the guidance of ITD, since 2007 the Lab is run by a team of experienced teachers from the Don Milani school that take advantage of the ITD support as to the design of formative activities. In a year time the Lab and its resources have been increasingly used by the school teachers and are becoming the reference for teachers of the district. Over 100 hours of seminars and courses attended by two hundred teachers, the variety of subjects, the growing involvement of teachers in proposing and implementing new formative activities, make the Lab a top level institution in the use of technology in education and educational innovation.